Pirates notebook: D'Arnaud may need thumb surgery

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 5:51 p.m.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — An MRI exam revealed a partially torn ligament in Chase d'Arnaud's left thumb, which might require surgery. The 26-year-old infielder will leave camp Sunday to be examined by a specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.

D'Arnaud was injured Saturday during a pregame baserunning drill. A runner brushed by too close and bent back d'Arnaud's thumb. He was scratched from the lineup and hasn't played since.

“I didn't think (the injury) was that bad,” d'Arnaud said. “It felt like any other sprained finger. When they told me the MRI results, I was shocked.”

If surgery is necessary, it could be three or four months before d'Arnaud is back in action.

Last season, d'Arnaud sat out a month after being hit on the head by a pitch. He spent two weeks on the disabled list in the minors in 2009 because of a sprained left thumb.

D'Arnaud's brother, Travis, had surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament in October 2011.

McPherson hangs tough

Kyle McPherson did nothing Thursday to hurt his chances of winning the fifth spot in the Pirates' starting rotation.

McPherson tossed five scoreless innings in the 2-1 loss against the Phillies. The right-hander gave up four hits and struck out one. He got six ground-ball outs.

“I wanted to focus on keeping the ball down, and I had tremendous success with that,” McPherson said. “I got some early contact and it worked in my favor today with balls on the ground and some fly balls we could handle.”

McPherson bounced back from a three-inning, four-run wipeout against the Orioles on March 8. He has tried not to worry about who's winning the competition with lefty Jeff Locke for the final job.

“It's been a roller-coaster of a spring so far,” McPherson said. “I've got to stay focused on handling my workload each day and getting ready for the season.”

Manager Clint Hurdle smiled when asked if either Locke (2-1, 4.05 ERA) or McPherson (0-1, 5.68 ERA) has gained an edge.

“I wouldn't tell you if I did,” Hurdle said. “You see what I see.”

Grilli on way back

Closer Jason Grilli is due back in camp Friday after pitching for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. Italy manager Marco Mazzieri was criticized for not using Grilli in the eighth inning Wednesday when Italy blew a 3-0 lead and was eliminated by a 4-3 loss against Puerto Rico.

“I think we have an obligation to the player first, to their teams and then to us,” Mazzieri told MLB.com. “I couldn't ask Jason to go in for more than one inning, which is what he's going to do during the season. Yes, this tournament is important. But to me what is most important is these guys. So I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt them in any way.”

Around the horn

Garrett Jones (strained oblique) is scheduled to start at first base and get two or three at-bats Friday against the Houston Astros. Jones hasn't played in a game since March 6. ... Right-hander Jeff Karstens (biceps tendinitis) is slated to throw a side session Saturday then pitch two innings in a game Monday. Management hasn't decided whether Karstens will pitch against the Boston Red Sox or in a minor league game. ... MLB Network will televise the game against the Houston Astros at 1 p.m. Friday. Also, MLB Network will show Thursday's game against the Phillies at 8 a.m. Friday.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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